NEPPC to challenge exclusion of North-South interconnector on grounds of discrimination, misrepresentation of the facts and a dereliction of public consultation duties

October 8, 2014

European Commission needs to examine Government and EirGrid practices

 Discrimination & Misrepresentation 06 October 2014 Media Release (Word Doc) 

 In light of recent activities by EirGrid concerning the proposed 400KV North-South interconnector project, NEPPC, on behalf of the stakeholders and landowners it represents, is considering a legal challenge against EirGrid, and the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) on grounds of discrimination, misrepresentation of the facts and a dereliction of public consultation duties. NEPPC is also issuing a formal complaint and request for an investigation to the European Commission.

Discrimination

The North-South interconnector project is being blatantly discriminated against by Eirgrid and by the Government. The undergrounding analysis currently underway for Grid West and Grid Link has never been afforded to the North South Interconnector Project. In January 2014 the DCENR announced the establishment of an Independent expert Panel (IEP) to oversee the analysis of specific undergrounding options for Grid West and Grid Link projects. But the North-South Interconnector Project was purposely excluded, on the basis of claims from EirGrid that a proper undergrounding analysis had already been performed for this project. This is patently untrue:

  • For the North-South Interconnector Project EirGrid has relied on quoting theoretical desk top studies and on a fundamentally flawed study, conducted by its partner consultancy firm PB Power, which was devoid of any terms of reference and made no objective attempt to assess, identify and select a relevant underground route for analysis. Instead, a half baked exercise was performed of drawing straight lines cross–country through agricultural land alongside the selected overhead lines’ route and carrying out ‘windscreen’ surveys.

 

  • For Grid West and Grid Link, by contrast, EirGrid is conducting ‘ a comprehensive underground analysis..ensuring that both overhead and underground options are given full and equal consideration’. The Preliminary Evaluation Report, recently published for Grid West is stated as: ‘ the first step, of bringing the underground option up to the same level of detail as the overhead line option, which will allow a full comparison of the two options to be made and submitted to the IEP’. A total of thirty one possible underground cable routes that could serve the Grid West project have been identified.

 

Misrepresentation of the facts

EirGrid has wilfully misrepresented the facts regarding options and costs for undergrounding the North-South interconnector project. It has treated the public with contempt in making glaring contradictions to its own previous statements on the subject of undergrounding.

  • For the North-South Interconnector Project EirGrid has publicly stated on many occasions that the only feasible route for undergrounding would be cross-country and not along public roads. In fact, in formal presentations to An Bord Pleanála it rejects the option of a route along public roads, and instead seeks to place the route through agricultural land, recommending the construction of a ‘20-22 metre haulage road which would be as wide as a four lane dual carriageway and would require 390,000 tonnes of hardcore’ (Aidan Geoghegan, Project Manager, North-South Interconnector Project)

 

  • For Grid West, however, as recently as this July, EirGrid is making the completely opposite statements to the public: ‘:  ‘why we did not consider a cross-country underground option, one that did not follow the public roads…“We clarified that it is preferable to route underground high voltage cables along public roads to allow ease of access for monitoring and maintenance of the cable. A cross-country cable route would result in significant construction costs in addition to increased environmental impact. By constructing the cable in the existing public roads, access would be automatically provided’ (Sean Meagher, Project Manager, Grid West).

 

  • The choice of a bogus underground route for the North-South Interconnector Project, with associated bogus costs, has led to a total misrepresentation of the facts concerning comparative costs of underground cable and overhead lines technologies.

 

Dereliction of Public Consultation duties

The differences in public consultation and engagement on undergrounding between the North-South interconnector project and that planned for Grid West and Grid Link could not be more extreme:

North-South Interconnector Project

  • No public participation on an underground route option has ever occurred
  • No engagement with landowners on an undergrounding solution has ever taken place
  • No involvement of Meath, Cavan or Monaghan County Councils on a specific underground route

Grid West

  •  A number of identified route options proposed to the public
  • Feedback elicited from landowners, provision of a landowner information brochure on undergrounding
  • Consultation with local authorities in Mayo, Roscommon and Galway, as well as the National Roads Authority and other relevant agencies

 

Over 95% of landowners potentially affected by the North-South Interconnector Project proposed overhead route are opposed to EirGrid’s plans, but fully support undergrounding. NEPPC, which represents these landowners, has placed a notice in the national press (attached), issuing a warning to ‘the establishment’ that the landowners are refusing to accept the current unjust and undemocratic process and fully intend to fight for their rights.

 

“What has happened here is unethical and unacceptable, stated Aimée Treacy, chairperson of NEPPC. The exclusion of the North-South interconnector by the Government from a proper undergrounding analysis is a cynical exercise in regionalising the issue and in alienating the communities in the North-East. It is a stunt which will backfire on two fronts: it will only serve to strengthen the resolve of the affected communities in the North-East and it will bolster the absolute determination of more than 95 per cent of the landowners in the area to bar their land against EirGrid, no matter what happens. What remains in tatters, however, is the track record of truly abysmal representation of the communities of the North-East by our Coalition representatives”. Why do our Government elected representatives continue to stand idly by and do nothing to reverse the decision on the exclusion of the North-South interconnector project?

NEPPC has  learned that EirGrid intend to resubmit for planning in the next month. This demonstrates that as far as EirGrid is concerned it is confident that it will obtain an approval without the need for due process.”

A public meeting is being held this Tuesday evening, October 7th, at 8.30pm in the Headfort Arms hotel, Kells, to discuss next steps.

North East Pylon Pressure Campaign Limited

087- 680 36 66         pjboreilly@eircom.net

 

Filed under: Press Releases 2014


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